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Forbes reports that “the first major changes to food inspection in a decade will increase federal scrutiny of meat and poultry plants where the danger from E. coli and other germs is high or where past visits have found unsafe practices.” In other words, plants with a bad history will get more attention than those with a positive record.

"We're just putting resources where the risk is greatest, and those plants that demonstrate excellent control will get less of our resources," says Richard Raymond, the Agriculture Department's top food safety official.

But not everybody is convinced.

"One of the concerns is that this is simply an effort to save money in a tight budget year," says Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "We want to make sure a budget shortfall is not what's driving these important inspection decisions."

USDA’s Raymond, however, denies that this is an economy move.
KC's View:
One of the things that worries us about the new USDA approach is the suggestion that eventually, plants with a consistently clean record will not be inspected at all and will be able to have “virtual inspections.”

Not a good move, we think. There’s no such thing as “virtual oversight,” and this possibility certainly sounds like an economy move to us.

Quite frankly, USDA has a tough enough job getting things right when it actually does things – as opposed to virtually doing things. Not showing up at all might work better for USDA , but we’re not sure it does the job for taxpayers and consumers.